Political intrigue, an undercover investigation and a very mutual attraction
As the Kansas City Police Department's archenemy, reporter Gabriel Knight never expected to need its help. But the sexy journalist suspects the death of a politician's aide will shed light on the long-unsolved murder of his fiancée. He demands to team up with tough, beautiful detective Olivia Watson. Sharing a mutual distrustand a disturbingly mutual attractionGabe and Olivia discover that someone's working hard to keep old secrets buried and stop their investigation dead. But as they come closer to the truth they edge closer to each other. Until now, neither has had room in their livesor heartsfor a relationship. Yet all that could change if Gabe can prevent them from becoming tomorrow's headline.
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"How is this a cold case?" Detective Olivia Watson squatted down beside the body with the bashed-in head lying on the plush office carpet.
The pool of blood looked fresh enough. The alleged murder weapon, a civic volunteerism trophy from the dead man's own desk, had already been bagged and packed away by the CSI trading notes with the medical examiner nearby. A uniformed officer and two building security guards were holding back a bevy of shocked and grieving office staff from the Kober & Associates PR firm, as well as curious onlookers from other businesses in the building beyond the yellow crime scene tape that blocked off the victim's outer office door. The two Kansas City PD detectives on the far side of the room interviewing the distraught secretary who'd discovered her boss's body after her half-day spa appointment seemed to have the crime scene well under control. So why call in representatives from the Fourth Precinct's Cold Case Squad?
Olivia rested her forearms on the thighs of her dark wash jeans and studied the sixtyish man's still features again. The glass-and-steel high-rise in downtown Kansas City was almost as new as the murder itself. She was used to working cases with pictures out of dusty boxes and autopsy reports that raised a lot of unanswered questions. She'd worked with skeletal remains and mummified corpses and alleged victims whose bodies had never been found at all. Most people assumed the Cold Case Squad was an easier gig than working a fresh investigation. She liked to think of it as a smarter assignment, requiring more insight and diligence than other divisions at KCPD.
Olivia was a third generation cop, like two of her three brothers. And the third one worked in the medical examiner's office. After two years in a uniform, five years in vice and the past year working cold cases, she'd learned that killers who'd eluded capture and thought they'd gotten away with murder often proved to be more devious and more dangerous than any other criminal out there. It was her job to track down those killers and finally get justice for those forgotten victims whose memory often died with their closest family and friends.
So why was she here to assist two perfectly capable detectives when there was a stack of her own investigations back at HQ to sort through?
"There must be a connection to one of our dead file cases. But if there is, I don't see it yet." She glanced up at her new partner, Jim Parkerback from the dead himself after a particularly harrowing undercover assignment for the Missouri Bureau of Investigation. "Do you?"
Jim's green eyes surveyed the room the way she had. "I recognize Ron Kober from the newspapers. Besides owning a Top 50 company here in KC, he helped get Adrian McCoy elected to the State Senate a few years back. Looks like he was doing pretty well on his own, without the senator."
Olivia arched a dark eyebrow. "Until today."
She liked Jim well enough, respected his reputation as a cop, appreciated that he got her sarcastic sense of humor. But after that humiliating debacle with her last partner, learning to trust him was hard. Thankfully, Jim was a newlywed, completely crazy about his wife, Natalie, and showed nothing but a friendly professional interest in his relationship with Olivia. Still, she found herself thinking about her words before she spoke to him, guarding her thoughts and feelings, which was no mean task for a woman with her volatile Irish roots.
"A man with this kind of money probably has plenty of enemies," Jim suggested.
An angle which she was sure the lead detectives were already exploring. Still didn't explain why she and Jim were here. She looked back down at the body, willing the corpse to speak and share his secrets. But she wasn't psychic and dead men didn't talk. However
Her eyes went past Kober's body to a scrap of torn paper underneath the desk. She snapped a picture with her cell phone before reaching over the dead body to pick it up with the sterile gloves she wore.
Jim crouched down beside her. "What did you find?"
Olivia turned the tiny square over between her thumb and index finger. "Four numbers. I don't know. It may just be a piece of trash."
"Looks like a torn-up piece of stationery." Jim picked up the wastebasket beside the desk and set it between them to sort through its contents.
But there were no other little hand-torn shreds like this one. "Could be the last digits of a phone number."
Jim replaced the wastebasket and stood. "Or part of an address or social security number."
"Or a locker number or part of a combination lock." Olivia straightened beside him, spotting a pad of dovegray paper on the desk that matched the piece in her hand. She picked it up and angled it in the light to see if she could read any indentations in the surface. But there were too many marks from previous notes to make out anything specific. "Maybe it's just a testament to their housekeeping service not doing its job, and isn't related to the crime at all."
Just in case, though, she jotted the 3620 in her notebook before handing the scrap of paper and Kober's scratch pad over to the CSI.
She tucked her own notepad into the pocket of her short leather jacket and peeled off her gloves, following Jim to the door. "So if this isn't our case, why are we here?"
Jim nodded to the detectives hovering over the weeping woman across the room. "Hendricks and Kincaid are taking lead on Kober's murder here. Sawyer Kincaid called us in as a courtesy."
Frowning, Olivia stuffed the gloves into the back pocket of her jeans. "And he didn't say why?"
"He just said it was a directive from higher up." He touched her shoulder to indicate he was taking a detour. "Looks like they're wrapping up that interview. I'll go ask if they can make sense of any of this yet."
While her golden-haired partner crossed the room, Olivia indicated she'd head on downstairs and meet him at the car.
She shouldn't have acknowledged the visceral impact of the short black hair and chiseled cheekbones of the man waiting just outside the office door as she passed him. Admitting any kind of gut-kick attraction to a man was, at least, an inconvenience, and, at most, a huge mistake. Her relationship with Marcus had taught her that.
But the man's piercing blue gaze locked on and followed her through the doorway. The skin at the nape beneath her short hair tingled with awareness at his interest. Only, she wasn't sure if it was sensual nerves fluttering to attention, or an alarm going off. Either way, she wasn't about to flutter for any man, and she wasn't going to ignore those survival instincts that warned her of danger.
Olivia stopped in the middle of the assistant's office and turned to face Mr. Tall Dark and Staring. "May I help you?"
He pulled back the front of his tan corduroy sport coat and tucked his hands into the pockets of his jeans, assuming a casual stance she wouldn't match. "I can tell you why you're here, Detective Watson."
Her chin jerked up ever so slightly at the stranger calling her by name. Un-uh. That wasn't an advantage she'd allow. Her hand instinctively came to rest over the Glock holstered to her belt. "Do I know you, Mister ?"
"Not really." The man straightened from the wall where he'd been leaning, and she could see he stood a good five or six inches over her five-foot-seven-inch height. "Ron Kober is the man my fiancée Danielle Reese was getting inside information from for a story she was writing when she was murdered six years ago."
"Danielle Reese?" Why did that name sound familiar? Didn't matter. This guy was still a couple steps ahead of her in the conversation, and she didn't like it. "You didn't answer my question. Who are you?"
Was that supposed to mean something to her? That deep, succinct announcement made it sound as though he thought he was somebody important. But she'd have remembered a face like that. Not exactly handsome with all those sharp, unsmiling angles, but definitely interesting.
Olivia blinked, silently reprimanding herself for even noticing such irrelevance. It was more important to note that she saw no sign that he was wearing a gun, and since he hadn't flashed a badge to identify himself, he couldn't be a cop. Gabriel Knight must be a curiosity seeker who'd probably lied to the uniformed guard about having some kind of information on the case so he could get close enough to see the dead body.
"Sir, did one of the detectives ask you to come past the crime scene tape for questioning?" He didn't answer. Proof enough for her that Gabriel Knight was trespassing on the crime scene. She thumbed over her shoulder to the hallway. "Then you can't be in here."
"I've got press credentials." He tugged at the cord hanging around his neck and pulled a plastic card from his shirt pocket. "I'm covering the murder for the Journal!''
A reporter? "Yeah, well my badge outranks your little piece of plastic. If you'll wait out front with the other reporters, the press liaison will be downstairs to give a briefing in a few minutes." She took him by the arm and turned to escort him into the hallway, but the man didn't budge.
"You need to talk to me." His voice was low and articulate, and, without being a breathy whisper, was for her ears alone. "I have information on this case. That's why the officer out front let me through."
"Then you should talk to Detective Kincaid or Detective Hendricks." She released him to point out the big man with the dark hair and the black man with the diamond stud in his left earlobe in the other room. "I can introduce you when they're through with their witness."
But Gabriel Knight grabbed her elbow and pulled her back beside him. "You may not read the paper, but I know who you are, Detective Watson. You and your partner are part of the cold case team, working older, unsolved crimes. Like the murder of Dani Reese. She was an investigative reporter, a colleague of mine. The woman I loved. She was found dead at an abandoned warehouse down on the river docks six years ago. Shot through the head like some common criminal. I'm the one who called Chief Taylor and suggested he send a team from your department here this afternoon."
Olivia jerked her arm from his grasp.
"You called the Fourth Precinct chief?" Who'd filtered the request down through Sawyer Kincaid and on to Jim and her. She hated anyone who felt they were entitled enough to break the rules of standard police procedure whenever it suited them. She could do the low, threatening voice, too. "You know, we have real work to do, Mr. Knight. KCPD is not at your beck and call to dig up sidebars for whatever story you're working on."
"Trust me, Detective, there is nothing more real to me than finding Dani's killer. If your people won't do it, I will."
Her people? Cops? Like her friends and father and grandfather and brothers? The same men and women who'd solved her own mother's brutal slaying two decades earlier? This guy was bashing them?
And then something else he said registered, cooling the defensive anger that had flashed through her veins. The woman I loved.
She empathized with the kind of senseless violence, anger and grief Gabriel Knight had suffered more than he knew. It only took one deep breath, one thought of her mother's smiling face, to remember her sensitivity training. "Every victim believes the death of his or her loved one is our most important case. I'm sorry for your loss. But if the department hasn't made enough progress on Ms. Reese's death to suit you, it's only because there haven't been any substantial leads. Not because we've given up."
"This is a lead. There has to be a connection to Kober.
"I promise you, if we get new information on your fiancée's death, we'll look into it."
"Coming from you, that's not terribly reassuring."
Bristling at the dig that felt inexplicably personal, coming from a man she'd never met, Olivia gestured toward the yellow tape. She bit down on the urge to demand an explanation and invited him to walk beside her. "We never give up on a case. Ever. But some take longer to solve than others. It's a matter of prioritization. We review cases every day and try to focus our time, money and manpower where it can do the most good."
"You're preaching departmental protocol, Detective Watson. And that's not a good enough answer." He stopped at the outer door, dipping his head slightly as he faced her one more time. "You find out who killed Kober, and I guarantee you'll find a lead on Dani's murderer. It may even be the same man who committed both crimes."
With that warning, he ducked beneath the tape and stalked away. Olivia shook her head at the uniformed officer's questioning look about whether or not he needed to stop Knight before he pushed his way through the gathering of onlookers and got on the elevator.
She was still processing the oddly charged and cryptic encounter when she felt a tap at her elbow. She nodded to Jim and he lifted the crime scene tape for her to exit in front of him. "You know who you were talking to, don't you?"
"Yeah. He said his name was Gabriel Knight. He's a reporter."
"Not just any reporter." They stepped onto the elevator and Jim pushed the button for the ground floor. "Gabe Knight writes the Crime Beat column for the Kansas City Journal.''''
Her instincts about men must still be out of whack after dumping Marcus. Otherwise, she'd have pieced together the name with the clues he'd dropped.
"He's the guy who wrote all those editorials about KCPD not being able to catch the Rose Red Rapist?" And when the task force did finally catch the creep and put him on trial, there hadn't been one word of praise or apology, merely a recitation of facts and something like, "About damn time. " Olivia groaned at her ineptitude as she walked out with Jim. Somehow she felt as if she'd betrayed her brethren cops by even having a conversation with the department's most outspoken critic. "And I was nice to him. Well, I was civil. He thinks Kober's murder is related to the unsolved death of his fiancée a few years back. Danielle Reese? He's the one who got us invited to the crime scene."
They circled the gathering of television cameras and reporters on their way to her SUV. She felt Knight's blue eyes following her from the crowd awaiting the press conference as they crossed the street, but studiously ignored the urge to meet his watchful gaze.
"He probably approached you because he thought you'd be softhearted and sympathetic to his cause." She glared at Jim over the hood of the car before they both climbed in. "Clearly, he doesn't know you very well."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Amazing chemistry between the characters, thrilling mystery to be solved, and detective in need to get her trust to fellow teammates, as well as men in general, back in place. Gabe and Olivia had a believable connection, attraction that grew fast, but was deep and true. The understanding and respect they had for each other, the smooth team work they did together, moving and thinking as a solid unit was a joy to read, and experience. They are hot together, they heat up the sheets, and hospital offices, conference rooms or a car... Yes, the heat level was steaming, but authentic and credible, as well as swoon worthy beautiful. The mystery kept me guessing, and clued into my Kindle. The hunt for a killer in six year old cold case suddenly heats up, the danger is palpable, and lives are in peril. There are intense scenes of the hunt for the clues, as well as running for their lives. The ending is satisfying and complete, yet some of the questions still need answers, and as part of a long running series, even though easily to be read as a stand alone novel, those questions are in my mind, and I can't wait for the next installment in the series, coming out in August. Very well written murder mystery, with a beautifully flowing story that captivated me and engaged my mind, and made me connect with the characters ~ Five Spoons!
3 STARS I liked Olivia Watson she is a strong female character. She works in the cold case department. She has made mistakes in trusting her last partner and boyfriend. Olivia has to learn it is okay to accept help from others. Olivia is third generation of policeman. Her brothers are also working for the police. Gabriel Knight is a reporter from the local newspaper. He has written a lot of bad articles about the police department. Especially because they have not found his fiancé that died four years ago. He is sure this new murder is connected to his fiancé's murder. He is determined to find her murderer. As Olivia gets the case looked at again someone wants to stop her. The case was the last one her father worked before he was forced by injury to leave the force. This has a lot of mystery, action, and romance to it. Does have some love scenes. There is part of the story that will carry on in future books. The setting is Kanas city. It is a fast paced book. I was given this ebook to read by Net Galley and Harlequin. In return I agreed to give honest review of Kanas City Cover-Up.
I found this to be a great book in the Precinct City. While it's the latest in a VERY long-running series, you definitely don't have to read the others to get what's going on. There are references to older cases, but they don't overwhelm the primary story between Gabe and Olivia. I found the chemistry between Gabe and Olivia to be quite believable and I liked the way they slowly made their way through solving the case of his late-fiancee's murder as they grew emotionally closer.to one another. I didn't guess who the ultimate villain was and I'm definitely intrigued to keep reading as one of the villains wasn't unmasked. There's absolutely something else going on at the Precinct and I'm itching to find out what it is. Glad to have read this! I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.